PULLMAN, Wash. - It all started with a viral tweet. WSU student Danni Messina decided to base her donation to St. Jude Children's Hospital on how many retweets and likes she could get, but got a little more than she bargained for.
Messina ended up owing a lot of money, and opened a GoFundMe account to help pay.
She raised a ton of money – a total of $190,000 as of Friday – and recently went to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. to visit with some of the patients she helped bankroll.
The Memphis hospital gave her a special tour so she could meet with them.
“I actually got to meet a girl named Madison she had been a patient and connected with me over Twitter,” Messina said. “She explained even if it's this one donation, it goes far.”
Kmart also got into the giving spirit, creating a Danni Messina Day in its stores, and helping to raise more than $86,000. She got to present the check when she visited St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
“This is something I see in movies, this isn't real,” Messina said. “We did this as a community and it is really cool to be able to give that money to such an amazing cause.”
She attributed the donations all to the power of social media.
“It was all these people who had retweeted and liked my tweet,” Messina said. “I had no idea who they were but they just wanted to help out.”
Her original tweet has more than 200,000 retweets.
St. Jude representatives said they are grateful for the awareness that Messina's tweet created and the early Christmas present many patients received this holiday season.